Monday, August 22, 2011

Fair Time

Things change slowly in a small town. Traditions get passed down year by year, so that when I attend annual events with my children, things don't seem too different from when I myself attended as a child.
The Cobden Fair will take place over the weekend of August 26-28. I know who will work the gates; the man who wraps the plastic bracelet around my wrist did it when I was 14. The kiosks selling airbrushed unicorn t-shirts and coloured feather roach clips will be set up beside the stage where step dancers and country singers will perform all weekend.

The Searson sisters, who went to high school with my husband!

The Centennial Hall will boast a farmers'/crafters' market, and we'll stop by for an ice cream at some point. The Curling Rink will hold the exhibits of garden flowers and vegetables, quilts, preserves, knitting, photography, and so on. We'll seek out the blue ribbons since we're entering some of the categories this year.

The ice surface at the rink will be transformed into a show ring; little boys and girls in white clothes and paper headbands will proudly display their calves and lambs, and we'll walk back to the barn behind the arena to see the young farmers grooming their animals for the next competition. Instead of video games, these kids' hands will hold blow dryers, brushes, clippers, and shovels to make sure their wards stay pristine for the judges. My kids will pet the lambs and their eyes will widen at the size of the cows.

Then we'll walk around the outdoor track where horses pull wagons and carts, to the horse barn. This has always been my favourite stop at the Fair. Percherons and Belgians stand quietly like tamed giants, stamping their plate-sized hooves, their tails and manes braided up prettier than Rapunzel's. I'll talk to the boys, now men, that went to school with me years ago, and lift my kids up to gaze into those horse's long-lashed eyes.

The midway is what the kids come for: the smells of dust, cotton candy, popcorn, and French fries, with a bit of grease thrown in. The young men running the rides look as bored and shady as they did when I was a girl, and I'll wonder again (as teachers do) if they've finished high school. Soon, heat and hunger will drive us to a concession stand to fill up on some greasy, sweet, nutritionally deficient snack.

Ah, the Cobden Fair. It's one of the best of its kind, if you ask this small-town girl. In a world that sometimes changes too fast for my taste, I can always count on the Cobden Fair to bring me back to a time when making good pies and preserves mattered, and a man was judged not on how much money he earned, but on how well he'd trained his team of horses. Maybe we'll see you there!

For information, call the Cobden Agricultural Society at 613-646-2426.


  1. Hi, just dropped in to enjoy the pics of the Fair. Thanks.

  2. Love these photos. Family traditions like these are wonderful.

  3. I love the fair. Your sounds delightful.

    I missed out county fair a couple of weeks ago, but the Corn Roast Festival is next weekend... I'm definately planning to go. :-)

  4. Eldest once participated in some horse eventing at a large rural fair, and we were delighted when she won several ribbons of the frilly equine variety. And then we were flabbergasted to discover that the ribbons actually came with PRIZE MONEY! We had no idea.

    I'll be rooting for your fair entries!!!! Which categories will you be entering?

  5. A perfect description of the Cobden Fair. Share this on FB so that our Cobden folk can also share and encourage everyone to come out!

  6. oh dear, I'll miss it by one weekend. I want to take my girls when they can ride the same rides I did, the Roundup, Zipper and tilt-a-whirl. We'll hit up the Markham fair in the fall and be sure to check out all the vegtables and quilts :) ENJOY!

  7. Haven't been to a fair in ages. The Cobden version always was a goody!

  8. The Shawville Fair is two weeks away. You've made me long for candied apples! Lovely writing.


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